CES 2017 Preview: Greater Emphasis on Services

[Photo: Flickr user  T  ech.Co ]

[Photo: Flickr user Tech.Co]

During the week of January 5–8, 2017, many of the biggest technology brands, along with thousands of reporters and over 150,000 consumers, will congregate in Las Vegas for CES. For the past seven years we’ve put together a prep memo for our teams and clients to help get them prepared for what has become a top event for our clients. The memo is based on best practices we’ve developed over the years as well as interviews we conduct with industry analysts from Forrester, Gartner and IDC.  

Here are some highlights from some of the major themes identified in our research:

Focus on Experience: One of the more interesting trends we observed in our conversations with analysts was the idea that CES is less about the shiniest gadget and biggest HDTV and more about new experiences and how new tech-powered services will transform the everyday lives of consumers.  

Virtual Reality:  VR is going to be everywhere. Expect to see many low-price alternatives to Sony, HTC and Facebook¹s offerings aimed at the high-end. Virtual reality content will also be a big theme at CES, as the device-makers look to partners to develop videos and games to show off their hardware.

Wearables: Fitness-tracking bracelets are turning into a commodity, although new health-related sensors could inject some energy into the market. Analysts are optimistic that new form factors including clothing, belts, shoes and jewelry will take off.  Smart ear buds, or ‘hearables' are also expected to drive some interest. 

Smartphones: Analysts don¹t expect to see any major flagship devices announced at CES. Big vendors typically use their own events where they are better able to control their message and setting.  The lack of innovation has been noted by analysts, but OEMs are getting closer to delivering bendable screens, projectors, wireless charging and battery life.

Augmented Reality: AR will be popular, but VR is much further along the path of market awareness and commercialization. AR is not ready for primetime despite the popularity of Pokemon. 

Automotive: Analysts expect auto technology to be one of the biggest trends at CES 2017. Everything from self-driving cars to vehicle-to-vehicle connectivity to advances in infotainment systems will be on display in Las Vegas. In fact, two of the three executive keynotes will have a heavy automotive theme (NVIDIA and Nissan). 

Smart homes: Analysts expect contraction and consolidation to take place in the smart home market. Expect to see better packaging of smart home ecosystems and messaging about why you would want a connected door lock and how it works with broad ecosystem of connected devices.  

Internet of Things: We still expect to see a lot of silly IoT-powered devices for the home. The need for security will also become more prominent given the recent high profile security breaches that exploited holes in IoT systems.

Drones: The buzz of drones is expected to be heavy at CES 2017 (literally and figuratively), continuing a major theme from last year. The next generation will feature extended battery life and flight time, 4K and 3D video, facial recognition, collision avoidance capabilities and integration with virtual reality headsets for remote control. 

If you’d like to hear more about what we expect to see on display at CES or receive a copy of our memo, please drop me a note at jay.andersen@blancandotus.com.